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Kindergarten Teacher Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a kindergarten teacher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Kindergarten teachers perform the vitally important function of instructing children in the basics so that they can progress smoothly as they travel up the path of education and socialization. Here we'll review the licensure requirements, potential salary and job outlook for kindergarten teachers.

Essential Information

Kindergarten teachers help young children begin to learn both academics and the basics of social interaction. Some of their job duties include teaching students to count and recognize letters, evaluating student performance and teaching students to interact with each other. Typically, kindergarten teachers must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited teaching program to earn licensure for work in public schools, although alternative teacher preparation programs do exist. In addition to learning about teaching pedagogy and teaching subject areas, their training includes student-teaching experiences.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in early childhood or elementary education or the completion of an alternative teacher preparation program
Other Requirements State licensure/certification
Projected Job Growth 6% from 2014-2024*
Median Salary (2013) $51,640 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Overview for Kindergarten Teachers

Kindergarten teachers, often the first teachers to have contact with children, use play and hands-on teaching methods to introduce basic academics to children. Letter recognition, phonics, numbers, counting and awareness of nature and science are generally the focus in kindergarten. Teachers might use exercises, such as matching games, simple scavenger hunts, recognition games and drawing or coloring, to teach students these concepts.

Kindergarten teachers also might teach children to function socially. Sharing, standing in line and interacting with a group of peers are all basic skills that are often learned in kindergarten.

Outside the classroom, kindergarten teachers develop lesson plans, evaluate student performance and communicate with parents and guardians. Because kindergarten is often the first regular contact a child has outside of home, kindergarten teachers are sometimes called upon to help both children and parents adjust.

Education Requirements

All states require that kindergarten teachers be licensed to teach. Normally, applicants for licensure must have a bachelor's degree, preferably in early childhood education, from an approved teacher training program. Most states also require a certain amount of supervised practice teaching, commonly called student teaching. In school, prospective teachers study both general areas, such as mathematics, science, art, reading, writing and literature, and subjects specifically designed to help them teach, like philosophy of education and teaching methods.

Students may enroll in a program at a professional development school. Students actually teach for a year, supervised by professional or licensed teachers. This is an alternative to more traditional student teaching programs, which involve prospective teachers acting as assistants to professional teachers in a classroom setting. Students may teach in a professional development school after earning a bachelor's degree.

Commonly, once your armed with a bachelor's degree in elementary education, you can become certified to teach kindergarten in the public school system, although alternative paths exist. Requirements can vary by state. Some states require a master's degree after you become certified. Others may require that you qualify in a content area. Private schools generally just require an elementary education bachelor's degree.

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